Föhrenbergkreis Finanzwirtschaft

Unkonventionelle Lösungen für eine zukunftsfähige Gesellschaft

Posts Tagged ‘Economist’

A massive money-laundering scandal stains the image of Nordic banks

Posted by hkarner - 22. Oktober 2019

Date: 21-10-2019
Source: The Economist

Danske and Swedbank will struggle to regain clients’ and regulators’ trust

Danske bank’s headquarters in Copenhagen, reminiscent of a Greek temple, speaks of an illustrious past. But Denmark’s biggest bank has “no vanity left”, says a spokesman. Since 2008 it has been embroiled in a disaster every five years. After one during the financial crisis, it was again in crisis mode in 2013 when the board sacked Eivind Kolding after 18 catastrophic months at its helm. Last year Thomas Borgen, Mr Kolding’s successor, resigned amid revelations about Danske’s role in a vast money-laundering scandal. In May Mr Borgen was charged by Denmark’s prosecutor.

The money-laundering crisis is the most damaging yet for Danske, and for other Nordic banks allegedly involved. Last year the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a group of investigative journalists, gave Danske its “Corrupt Actor of the Year” award. How did the bank squander its good name—and can it regain clients’ and regulators’ trust? Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How to await the apocalypse in style

Posted by hkarner - 20. Oktober 2019

Date: 18-10-2019
Source: The Economist

The business of preparing for disaster is still going strong

Ron hubbard sells high-end fallout shelters, and business is booming. Just $144,999 (fiat currency, not gold), buys a 500-square-foot, sandblasted, tar-coated, modular fallout shelter with a bulletproof hatch, decontamination shower, gas-tight interior doors, L-shaped entry “to attenuate gamma radiation”, kitchen, bathroom, sleeping space for a family and, of course, the chance to upgrade it as far as the buyer’s wallet will allow. Shouting down the phone in his Texas twang, Mr Hubbard says that “people are buying [my shelters] because they think the shit’s going to hit the fan in this country! Eventually a hard-core socialist liberal’s going to take control, and they’re not going to let that happen. People are preparing for civil war.”

Preparing for disaster—“prepping”, as practitioners tend to call it—is nothing new. At the height of the cold war, people built fallout shelters in their yards, and governments installed them under public buildings. Moscow’s immense subway stations double as fallout shelters; Switzerland’s network of shelters can house the country’s entire population. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Another Scottish referendum beckons—and this time the nationalists may win

Posted by hkarner - 20. Oktober 2019

Date: 19-10-2019
Source: The Economist

Brexit, and the capture of Westminster by hardliners, has increased Scots’ appetite for independence

It is a defining characteristic of the modern Scottish nationalist movement that it refuses to engage in extreme methods to advance its cause. This week, as Spain’s supreme court jailed Catalan separatist leaders for between nine and 13 years for sedition, following an illegal referendum and unilateral declaration of independence in 2017, the Scottish National Party was gathering peacefully in Aberdeen for its annual conference.

Nicola Sturgeon, the snp’s leader and first minister of Scotland, was quick to condemn the Spanish court’s decision as “dreadful”. But the contrast between the two movements is stark. When it comes to radical activity, Scottish nationalists might engage in a boisterous march through the streets of Edinburgh or, if especially grumpy, wave some placards outside the “biased” bbc. But they obey the law.

This perhaps reflects the fact that Britain has been a union of choice for more than 300 years and has largely operated to Scotland’s advantage. Even with the separatist snp repeatedly elected to power at Holyrood, Scotland’s devolved parliament, over the past decade, the nation has remained a reasonably relaxed part of Britain, voting 55-45 to stay in an independence referendum in 2014. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Human-machine interface

Posted by hkarner - 19. Oktober 2019

Date: 17-10-2019
Source: The Economist

Data-labelling startups want to help improve corporate AI

A clutch of firms is generating the feedstock for machine-learning algorithms: tagged data

Corporate boards are besotted with artificial intelligence. Worldwide spending on ai is expected to rise from $38bn this year to $98bn by 2023, estimates idc, a research firm. So far, though, only one in five companies aware of the technology’s potential has incorporated machine learning into its core business. One reason for the slow uptake is the dearth of quality data to teach algorithms to perform useful tasks. The most common form of ai, called “supervised learning”, requires feeding software stacks of pre-tagged examples of, say, cat pictures until it can tell a feline image apart by itself. Data-labelling is the sort of grunt work that corporate ai-users would prefer someone else to do for them. An industry is popping up to help.

The market for data-labelling services may triple to $5bn by 2023, reckons Astasia Myers of Redpoint Ventures, a venture-capital firm. Some outfits, like Mechanical Turk (owned by Amazon, an e-commerce giant), act as middlemen connecting freelancers ready to perform all manner of “micro-tasks”, of which things like tagging pictures is one example, with taskmasters. Other firms specialise. Hive has turned data-labelling into something “like playing Candy Crush”, explains its boss, Kevin Guo, referring to a hit tile-matching game. Its mobile app makes it easy for users to identify objects, earning money instead of points. Its 1.5m players across the world serve more than 100 corporate customers. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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A Nobel economics prize goes to pioneers in understanding poverty

Posted by hkarner - 19. Oktober 2019

Date: 17-10-2019
Source: The Economist: Free exchange

Randomised trials help policymakers grasp which policies work and which don’t

The most important question in economics is also the hardest: why do some countries stay poor while others grow rich? In 2015, 10% of the world’s population lived on less than $1.90 per day, down from 36% in 1990. But more than 700m people remain in extreme poverty, and the number grows every day in certain parts of the world, in particular sub-Saharan Africa. For their contributions to understanding gaps in development, the better to close them, Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer have been awarded this year’s Nobel prize for economics. All three are Americans, though Mr Banerjee and Ms Duflo are immigrants (and married to each other). Ms Duflo is only the second woman to have received the prize and, at 46, the youngest winner ever. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Greta Thunberg accuses rich countries of “creative carbon accounting”

Posted by hkarner - 18. Oktober 2019

Date: 17-10-2019
Source: The Economist

When it comes to measuring national emissions, she has a point

IT IS 5AM, and New Covent Garden Market is in full swing. On its swarming 57-acre site in Battersea wholesalers are flogging fruit, vegetables and flowers to London’s greengrocers and restaurateurs. Costa Rican pineapples are stacked next to Kenyan passion fruits and Peruvian asparagus. Rows of Danish conifers sit by buckets of Dutch roses. Fresh produce shipped from all around the world is for sale.

But what is a boon to chefs—and apologetic spouses—has become a mind-bending problem for politicians and regulators. Under mounting public pressure they are busy setting targets to limit their carbon emissions. At least 60 countries and over 100 cities have promised to get to “net zero”. The trouble is that few account fully for the emissions created by products that are consumed within their borders but produced outside them.

Take, for example, a bunch of those Dutch roses. Britain’s “net-zero” target for its carbon impact includes only domestic emissions—the lorry trip carrying them on British soil, and so on. These carbon emissions are trivial in comparison to the 30kg or so from heating greenhouses in the Netherlands and flying the roses to Britain. Through a production lens, Britain looks relatively virtuous. Through a consumption lens, it does not. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Italy sends a sensible budget to Brussels

Posted by hkarner - 18. Oktober 2019

Date: 17-10-2019
Source: The Economist

All much less confrontational now that Matteo Salvini is out of government

Purtroppo, la nostra macchinetta è guasta (“Unfortunately, our little machine is broken”) should feature in Italian phrase books, for it is an expression every shopper in Italy encounters before long. Accompanied by a glance at a supposedly sickly payment terminal, it tells the customer proffering a card that only cash will do.

Measures in Italy’s draft 2020 budget, sent to the European Commission for scrutiny on October 16th, aim to thwart this and other methods of avoiding the traceability—and taxability—of transactions. One would lower the limit for cash payments from €3,000 ($3,300) to €2,000. Another would create a lottery with prizes restricted to credit- and debit-card users. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The unravelling of Rudy Giuliani

Posted by hkarner - 18. Oktober 2019

Date: 17-10-2019
Source: The Economist: Lexington

No one member of Donald Trump’s coterie has fallen further than “America’s mayor”

Had lexington’s 2007 incarnation been informed that the next Republican president would be a pro-gay, pro-choice, thrice-wed New Yorker, the name of Donald Trump would not have leaped to his august mind. Rudy Giuliani led the Republican primary by a big margin throughout that year. There were, to be sure, doubts about whether the former New York mayor was too socially liberal for small-town conservatives. He had once shared a house with two gay people and a Shih Tzu and, what was worse, acted in a comic skit alongside Mr Trump, that symbol of louche metropolitanism. Moreover America was not given to electing “abrasive” New Yorkers, Lexington cautioned then. But, like many others, he suspected Mr Giuliani’s dynamism and the broad support he enjoyed for his calm leadership after 9/11 and record of crime-fighting could compensate for such handicaps.

It has been pretty much downhill ever since for Mr Giuliani—culminating this week in what appears to be the worst crisis of his increasingly scandal-plagued career. In his role as the president’s old mucker and personal lawyer, he is alleged to have run a parallel foreign policy in Ukraine for the main purpose of spreading bogus allegations against Joe Biden, Mr Trump’s most feared Democratic rival. He is also reported to be under investigation—by a federal agency he once led—for breaking lobbying laws, apparently related to the same plot. Two of his business associates in Ukraine are under arrest. How much legal trouble he faces is unclear—though his decision to defy a congressional subpoena related to the Ukraine plot, for which Mr Trump is likely to be impeached, seems unlikely to help. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How stories can help explain booms and busts

Posted by hkarner - 16. Oktober 2019

Date: 15-10-2019
Source: The Economist

Once a narrative takes hold, it can drive markets

Everyone knows, or thinks they know, the story of the Wall Street shoeshine boy. In 1929 Joseph Kennedy, patriarch of the Boston-Irish political clan, had an epiphany while his shoes were being cleaned. When the boy who shined his shoes offered him stock tips, he realised the stockmarket was about to implode. Kennedy promptly sold all his shares and took a short position, betting that the market would fall. When it crashed that October he made a killing.

In his new book, “Narrative Economics”, Robert Shiller, a Nobel laureate, offers this tale as an example of a contagious narrative that becomes part of folk wisdom. A story need not be accurate to spread. Mr Shiller searched archives of newspapers from the period, and could find no record of it. But he did find a similar kind of story in the Minneapolis Morning Tribune. The stockmarket, it said, could not yet have peaked because “we do not hear of the chamber maids and bootblacks who have cleaned up fortunes by lucky plays.” That story was published in 1915. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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African kleptocrats are finding it tougher to stash cash in the West

Posted by hkarner - 14. Oktober 2019

Date: 13-10-2019
Source: The Economist

The days of brazen looting and laundering have passed

Light-fingered tyrants are looking back wistfully. In past decades they could stash their illicit wealth in the West. Friendly lawyers, banks and middlemen were on hand to park the loot. Sani Abacha, the military dictator who ran Nigeria in the 1990s, deposited billions of dollars in banks across the rich world, no questions asked. Western governments often seemed equally unfussed. Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, a former president of France, attended soirées in chateaux owned by the late Emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa of Central Africa. Mr Bokassa would slip his guest diamonds to thank him for France’s support.

Such brazenness is becoming a bit harder to get away with. Anti-corruption campaigners and muckraking journalists have busied themselves trying to uncover stolen assets. Western governments, tired of seeing aid money stolen, have toughened up money-laundering and bribery laws. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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